Within hours of the checkered flag falling on the 2002 Nascar Winston Cup season at Homestead-Miami Speedway this Sunday, Johnny Benson and his Valvoline teammates will be back at the 1.5-mile oval Monday morning testing their new 2003 Pontiac...
Within hours of the checkered flag falling on the 2002 Nascar Winston Cup season at Homestead-Miami Speedway this Sunday, Johnny Benson and his Valvoline teammates will be back at the 1.5-mile oval Monday morning testing their new 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix.
Nascar this weekend reduced the allotted tests from seven in 2002 to five in 2003. The Monday and Tuesday test in Miami is a Nascar mandated test therefore it won't count as one of the five tests the team is permitted at a Winston Cup track in 2003.
Johnny Benson on reduction from seven to five tests in 2003:
"Now that we have five tests you are going to see teams trying to find different ways around this rule. They are going to go do more Busch races; they are also going to go to tracks where it won't count as a test, so there will be ways around it. If it gives the crew guys in this sport a break then I'm all for it but if it just changes the place where we are testing then I don't know how much of an impact it will make. But, Nascar is trying to do the right thing and I will support them whenever they are trying to help the crew guys."
Crew chief James Ince on reduction from seven to five tests in 2003:
"I understand why they did it but I'm kind of disappointed they are reducing the number of tests in 2003. Our schedules are busy and all that, but when you have new race cars you need as many tests as you can get. This is kind of a strange year for this to be happening. If we are going to cut down the tests I wish we would cut all of them out and just be done with it. You are going to see the big teams going to Kentucky, Nashville and other tracks like that even more in 2003 since those tracks don't count as one of your five tests."
Ince on the off season:
"It all runs together now. It isn't like it used to be that you could take a couple weeks off after the season to rest and then move forward. It's a never-ending endeavor now. We had such a busy off-season last year that I went to Daytona tired. I felt like we never had any time off and that it was just a continuation of the year before. This season I plan to make sure we get some time off and are well rested when we get to Daytona. Our off season is about three weeks now. And, that's tough on everybody. We know auto racing is a tough business and a tough sport. You understand when you go in to it that it's going to take that kind of commitment. That's why these salaries are going up. The owners understand how demanding these jobs are."
Ince on the 2003 Pontiac:
"We actually started thinking and working on the 2003 program in February of 2001 at Daytona. Pontiac came to us and told us what they wanted us to do with a new car and how they wanted us to participate in their program. Since then we have been working for the 2003 season. Yeah it is a new car to the fans, but to us it is kind of an old friend already. I feel really good about the 2003 car. But you never really know what you have until you get them all in a pile and start racing. The thing I feel the best about is that for the first time in the history of the sport everybody is having to cut up a car. It isn't a deal where the Fords are getting something new or the Chevrolets are something new. With the roof location rule and new templates this will be the most even playing field we have ever had. I'm really looking forward to it."